Close back unrounded vowel

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Close back unrounded vowel
IPA Number316
Entity (decimal)ɯ
Unicode (hex)U+026F
Braille⠲ (braille pattern dots-256)⠥ (braille pattern dots-136)
Audio sample

The close back unrounded vowel, or high back unrounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. Acoustically it is a close back-central unrounded vowel.[2] The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɯ⟩. Typographically a turned letter m, given its relation to the sound represented by the letter u it can be considered a u with an extra "bowl". It is not to be confused with ⟨⟩, a sequence of the symbols ⟨u⟩ and ⟨ɪ⟩ (which represent the close back rounded vowel and the near-close front unrounded vowel, respectively), nor with ⟨ω⟩, which is an unofficial symbol for the near-close back unrounded vowel.


  • Its vowel height is close, also known as high, which means the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
  • Its vowel backness is back, which means the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Unrounded back vowels tend to be centralized, which means that often they are in fact near-back.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Acehnese[3] eu [ɯ] 'see' Also described as closer to [ɨ].[4][5]
Alekano hanuva [hɑnɯβɑ] 'nothing'
Bashkir ҡыҙ [qɯð] 'girl'
Chinese Hokkien Amoy dialects [tɯ] 'pig'
Some Wu dialects [vɯ] 'father'
Xiang [xɯ] 'fire'
Crimean Tatar canım [dʒanɯm] 'please'
English California[6] goose [ɡɯˑs] 'goose' Corresponds to [] in other dialects.
New Zealand[7][8] treacle [ˈtɹ̝̊iːkɯ] 'treacle' Possible realization of the unstressed vowel /ɯ/, which is variable in rounding and ranges from central to (more often) back and close to close-mid.[7][8] Corresponds to /əl/ in other accents. Develops from dark L; See New Zealand English phonology
Estonian[9] kõrv [kɯrv] 'ear' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɤ⟩; can be close-mid central [ɘ] or close-mid back [ɤ] instead, depending on the speaker.[9] See Estonian phonology
Garifuna gürûgua [ɡɯˈɹɯɡwə] 'bite'
Irish Ulster caol [kʰɯːl̪ˠ] 'narrow' See Irish phonology
Kensiu[10] [häjɯp] 'to know' kirdibetmânawa
Korean[11] 음식/飮食 eumsik [ɯːmɕik̚] 'food' See Korean phonology
Kurdish Central kirdibetmânawa[12] [kɯɾ dɯ bɛt mɑː'nəwæː] 'that we have opened it' See Kurdish phonology
Kyrgyz кыз [qɯz] 'girl' See Kyrgyz phonology
Ongota [kuˈbuːɯ] 'dry'
Scottish Gaelic caol [kʰɯːl̪ˠ] 'thin' See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Shipibo[13] kuni [ˈkɯni̞] 'whisker'
Sundanese meunang [mɯnaŋ] 'get'
Thai[14] ขึ้น[15] [kʰɯn˥˩] 'to go up'
Turkish[16] sığ [sɯː] 'shallow' Also described as near-close near-back [ɯ̽][17] and close central [ɨ].[18] See Turkish phonology
Turkmen ýaşyl [jäːˈʃɯl] 'green'
Tuvan Кызыл [kɯˈzɯl] 'Kyzyl'
Uyghur تىلىم [tɯlɯm] 'my language' In complementary distribution with /ɪ/. See Uyghur phonology
Vietnamese tư [tɯ] 'fourth' See Vietnamese phonology
Xumi Upper[19] [Hkɯ][clarification needed] 'to bake' Allophone of /ʉ/ after velar consonants.[19]
Yakut тыл [tɯl] 'tongue'

The symbol ⟨ɯ⟩ is sometimes used for Japanese /u/, but that sound is rounded, albeit with labial compression rather than protrusion. It is more accurately described as an exolabial close back vowel.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  3. ^ Mid-vowels in Acehnese Archived 2010-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Agreement System in Acehnese Archived 2013-06-05 at WebCite
  5. ^ Acehnese Coda Condition
  6. ^ Ladefoged (1999), pp. 42–43.
  7. ^ a b "NZE Phonology" (PDF). Victoria University of Wellington. p. 3.
  8. ^ a b Bauer & Warren (2004), p. 585.
  9. ^ a b Asu & Teras (2009), p. 369.
  10. ^ Bishop (1996), p. 230.
  11. ^ Lee (1999), p. 122.
  12. ^ Page, Jason S. (2013-06-04). "Boildown Study on Supernatant Liquid Retrieved from AW-106 in December 2012".
  13. ^ Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001:282)
  14. ^ Tingsabadh & Abramson (1993), p. 24.
  15. ^ Dictionary entry for ขึ้น (kheun) (
  16. ^ Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)
  17. ^ Kılıç & Öğüt (2004)
  18. ^ Zimmer & Organ (1999:155)
  19. ^ a b Chirkova, Chen & Kocjančič Antolík (2013), p. 389.


External links[edit]